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Writing Charitable Purposes

This month the Charity Commission has released guidance on how to write Charitable Purposes.  To see the full guide follow this link:

The Charitable Purpose is summarised as what the charity is trying to achieve.  This purpose must be for the public benefit and fit one or more of the 13 ‘descriptions of purposes’ which are listed within the Charities Act.

It is important to establish a clear purpose as it is used to establish whether an organisation is classified as a Charity by HMRC and the Charity Commission and also so that supporting or benefiting from the charity can understand its aims and who it helps.  Trustees have a duty to work within your charity’s stated purposes.

The Charity Commissions lays out four key areas that need to be present in a Charitable purpose:

  • what outcomes your charity is set up to achieve
  • how it will achieve these outcomes
  • who will benefit from these outcomes
  • where the benefits extend to

For each separate purpose the charity has, the public benefit and the fact the trustees will carry it out for the public benefit will need to be established.

A key point when writing a purpose, it is important to retain a balance between expressing plainly what your charity will do to achieve its purpose without restricting what it can do.  Also if the purpose does not specify who benefits it will be taken to mean the public in general will benefit.

The commission gives examples which can be used without alteration if they fully and accurately express the charity’s purpose.  However if does not fit entirely, may restrict the purpose.

Overall the clarity of the statement is essential.  Use of plain simple language and explanations of any more unusual terms is advised.  The guidance also provides a list of terms which should be avoided. 



Date: 6th November, 2014
Author: Wendy Bambrick


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